Authors
Michel Janssen
University of Minnesota
Abstract
In October 1924, The Physical Review, a relatively minor journal at the time, published a remarkable two-part paper by John H. Van Vleck, working in virtual isolation at the University of Minnesota. Using Bohr’s correspondence principle and Einstein’s quantum theory of radiation along with advanced techniques from classical mechanics, Van Vleck showed that quantum formulae for emission, absorption, and dispersion of radiation merge with their classical counterparts in the limit of high quantum numbers. For modern readers Van Vleck’s paper is much easier to follow than the famous paper by Kramers and Heisenberg on dispersion theory, which covers similar terrain and is widely credited to have led directly to Heisenberg’s Umdeutung paper. This makes Van Vleck’s paper extremely valuable for the reconstruction of the genesis of matrix mechanics. It also makes it tempting to ask why Van Vleck did not take the next step and develop matrix mechanics himself.
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DOI 10.1007/s00407-007-0010-x
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Translation as Heuristics: Heisenberg׳s Turn to Matrix Mechanics.Alexander Blum, Martin Jähnert, Christoph Lehner & Jürgen Renn - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 60:3-22.
On the History of the Quantum.Jeroen van Dongen, Dennis Dieks, Jos Uffink & A. J. Kox - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (4):277-279.
Zweideutigkeit About “Zweideutigkeit”: Sommerfeld, Pauli, and the Methodological Origins of Quantum Mechanics.Suman Seth - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (4):303-315.

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